Monday, June 21, 2010

Sick Puppies, live at CD World in Eugene, Oregon

Sick Puppies, a hard rock trio originating from Sydney, Australia stopped by Skip's Record & CD World in Eugene, Oregon to play a few songs for their fans in promotion of their second album "Tri-Polar".  The Puppies rocked the crowd with a stripped-down set of some fans favorites.  The turn-out was huge and the band graciously stuck around after the performance to chat with their fans and sign autographs for the crowd.

Sick Puppies on the in-store porch.

The Sick Puppies were formed in 1997 by front-man Shimon "Shim" Moore along with pal Emma Anzai. While still attending Mosmon High School in Sydney, the two would frequently meet-up to play some of their favorite music at the time and later began to write their own material.   The group would eventually add a third member, resulting in Mark Goodwin becoming the drummer for the band upon Shim and Emma moving the band to Los Angeles, California.  With two studio albums under their belt as well as a hit live album, the Sick Puppies tour with some of the biggest names in popular music today.

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Front-man/guitarist Shimon "Shim" Moore

Singer/Bassist Emma Anzai

On drums, Mark Goodwin

As always, a big thanks to CD World and the great music lovers of Eugene, Oregon for yet another awesome in-store event!  Big props to the Sick Puppies for being a class-act and having some really chill fans, you guys rocked.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Having a Blast in Fort Rock Basin - Part 3, Crack in the Ground

We conclude our brief foray through the Fort Rock Basin with a hike into Crack in the Ground, a 2 mile long fissure running through the desert floor near the edge of the Four Craters Lava Field. Located southeast of the Newbury Caldera, Crack in the Ground is a wonderfully unique formation that is easy to get to and easy to explore.  We were able to hike a lot of it in a short time, but this place definitely merits a return visit of several hours, if not an entire day.

Over time, sand and dirt has blown in to fill the bottom of the crack, leaving behind a rather comfortable trail.
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To wrap your head around Crack in the Ground, it helps to understand that much of this corner of North America was once covered in thick sheets of basalt lava.  The stuff burbled out of calderas and miles-long cracks in the ground for millions of years, slowly building-up and creating thick shelves of the stuff everywhere.  The next time you're driving east of the Cascades, look around you, you'll most likely see remnants of these lava flows resting on top of or sandwiched between layers of ash and soil on in the surrounding hills and buttes.

Wind, water and time have conspired with tectonic forces to reveal some of the Earth's hidden beauty.
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Crack in the Ground is actually a crack in one of these basalt shelves.  It's a fracture that formed in a graben-like structure of basalt nearly 2 miles in diameter produced by several nearby cinder cones on Green Mountain.

"Hold-up, whats a graben?" you ask.

That's a good question. I didn't know either so I looked it up; to really water it down, its a block of sunken earth. In this case, what we're looking at is a basalt shelf that sunk under its own weight into the ground along the edge of a fault-line. The fissure that is Crack in the Ground was formed when the shelf encountered the upthrown end of a concealed fault as it sank; the tremendous tension of this meeting sheered the edge of the shelf off, leaving a nice, wide, easily accessible crack... in the ground.

Chicks still dig geology.
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Primal forces patiently sculpt the rock into an array of amazing shapes and formations.
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This place is really cool, both figuratively and literally; being narrow and deep, the average temperature in the crack is around 30 degrees cooler than that of the surface. Prior to air-conditioning, residents from nearby Christmas Valley would visit Crack in the Ground to escape the summer heat; packing in picnics and making ice-cream from the snow that often goes all year without melting in some of the darker, deeper recesses of the fissure.  With its markedly cooler and moister climate, its not just people that the crack appeals to; an abundance of life prospers there that would otherwise struggle at best to stand a chance on the surface.

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More stress fractures in the basalt hint at the extraordinary forces that were at work here.
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Accessing the trail is a breeze.  Crack in the Ground Road leads north out of Christmas Valley, Oregon to a small parking lot near the north end of the fissure.  Trails from the parking lot lead off to several entrances where the walls have collapsed and eroded away over time, leaving behind ramps of debris leading down into the breach.  The nearest entrance actually seemed to be the least accessible; the north side of it is all but blocked off by rubble and the south side only goes so-far before encountering a steep drop that will prohibit a lot of folks from continuing.  However, if memory serves, the rest of the trail should be near universally accessible from the southern end, you just gotta walk the length of the crack on the surface to get there first. I want to say that the southern end of the trail is even wide and smooth enough for wheel-chairs but I honestly don't remember the trail conditions leading to that point although it didn't seem taxing.

One of the entrances, partially obscured by Junipers and scrub brush.
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Naturally occurring dividers and windows dot the length of the fissure.
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All-in-all, the trek through the desert to Crack in the Ground was very-much worth the time and effort. Its a friendly hike through a fascinating natural phenomenon that is rarely seen on our planet.  While stress fractures like Crack in the Ground are not uncommon, one that hasn't been completely filled-in and covered over with sediment and debris is actually quite unique.  I eagerly await my next opportunity to photograph this sensational structure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

CD World Instore, 4/22/2010 - Ben Fuller

Being nestled conveniently between Portland and San Francisco, Eugene gets a lot of great musicians passing through.  When the stars align just-so, we'll get lucky and a few of these artists will stop-by and play a short set and meet the fans at CD World, the music store that I work at.  While I wish that I could claim that we snare them with some sort of celebrity speed-trap ala Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane, sadly its just plain ol' hard work and lots of time on the phone that brings them in and for that we can generally thank Mr William Kennedy.  Be sure to stop-by his blog and read his half-baked lunatic rantings about music, they're really good.

On April 22nd, just days after the exhausting romp that was Record Store Day Weekend, we were honored to host Ben Fuller for one of these live in-store performances.  Along with bassist Nick Denoia and percussionist Ben Visnyei they thrilled the crowd with their dreamy, travel-inspired songs of love and adventure.

Ben Fuller

Nick Denoia on Bass

Ben Visnyei on Cajone Box

Check-out Ben's solo debut Aquarian Son, available now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bear Loves Salmon

Spotted in Crescent, Oregon...
Bear Loves Salmon
©2009, Beau Owens Photography.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Having a Blast in Fort Rock Basin - Part 2, Fort Rock

A trip to the Fort Rock Basin wouldn't be complete without a visit to Fort Rock State Natural Area, home to Fort Rock itself. Known as a tuff ring, Fort Rock was formed somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago when the fire in the earth's belly reached-up and encountered the moisture of a massive pluvial lake that existed in the region then.

Somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago basalt magma rose high enough through the earth's crust to encounter the wet muds lying below the bed of an ancient pluvial lake. The water in the mud vaporized in an instant, blowing the basalt through the lake bed and high into the air. As lava and ash rained down they formed a ring around the vent's opening, creating an island of tuff and ash in the lake. The steam explosions also loosened chunks of the black and red lava bedrock from the even older Picture Gorge Basalt flows under the lakebed, incorporating them into the layers of the new island. Over time, the lake receeded but not before beating against the sides of the island for thousands of years, erroding away the softened ash layers, revealing terraced cliffs around the outside and flooding the interior through a hole it ate in the southern exposure.  What's left is a nearly mile-wide, 200' tall capital "C" in the middle of an otherwise flat desert.

These porous, sponge-like surfaces point to gases escaping through the material of the forming island.

Paintbrush, Eriophyllum and host of other hardy flowers eek out an existence on the floor of the ring's interior.

Looking out of the opening in Fort Rock from the interior.  The town of Fort Rock can be seen in the distance.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Having a Blast in the Fort Rock Basin - Part 1, Hole-in-the-Ground


Last summer we took a drive through the beautiful Fort Rock Basin located in Central Oregon's Lake County to investigate its interesting volcanic topography. Home to a massive pluvial lake from as early as 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, this once-highly seismic area is a great place to observe the dramatic effects of some of nature's most primal forces.  

The first stop along our route brought us to a large maar known as "Hole-in-the-Ground".  After driving through the Cascade mountain range to get to Lake County, it would be easy to dismiss a "small" rise in the landscape of a mere 110 feet (210 on its highest side) and surrounded by towering Ponderosa pines, it might be possible to miss it entirely.  However, upon cresting the rise and seeing the nearly mile-diameter crater in front of you, its sides sloping away steeply to the basin roughly 600 feet below, the importance of what you're standing on begins to leave an impression.

From Wikipedia: The crater formed during the late Pleistocene, between 13,500 and 18,000 years ago, at which time the Fort Rock Basin was a lake and the location was near the shore. Basaltic magma intruding near the surface flashed ground water to steam, which blew out overlying rock and soil, along with some juvenile material. As material slid into the hole formed, it closed the vent and the process repeated, eventually forming the huge hole

A hole in Hole-in-the-Ground

Friday, April 30, 2010

Shooting Stars on Record Store Day 2010

As part of the "follow my dreams" portion of my life, I persisted in landing a part-time job at a local music store here in Eugene a few years ago. Not only is CD World a music store, but its one of the best still in-business so... I've got that going for me too. This past April 17th, we hosted "Record Store Day", an international celebration of small, independently owned music stores such as ours. Along with a ton of great, celebration-only exclusive merchandise, we were also host to a cavalcade of great live music from a slew of bona-fide stars.

While I was officially on-the-clock and supposed to be helping customers, the boss knows the power of good publicity and let me work the floor with my camera slung over one shoulder. With names like "Black Francis" and "Exene Cervenka" on the marquee and a music-lovers treasure trove of goodies to be had, a massive crowd was drawn to the store and some truly intimate and absolutely unforgettable moment were shared by all.

Northwest R&B favorites Shelley and Cal kicked things off.

Eugene's own The Sugar Beets got the crowd all worked-up!

Black Francis, aka Frank Black of Pixies fame closed-out the day by guiding the ever-amassing crowd through a poetic journey of his decades-spanning career for a solid hour-and-a-half in what will surely go-down as the greatest solo acoustic set CD World has ever born witness to.

While Record Store Day is officially only one day long, given that it was on a Saturday, we let the party just spill right-over into Sunday and kept going with even more great music and big names.

Trampled by Turtles, a Roots/Americana quintet out of Minnesota turned-in a blistering performance. New to the West Coast crowd, for Bluegrass enthusiasts, these guys are not to be missed.

Punk legend and bona-fide rock-star Exene Cervenka of X fame closed-out the festivities with a beautiful and powerful solo acoustic set.

Needless-to-say, it was a great weekend for music and photography. It'll all happen again next April; I can't wait to see how we out-do ourselves!